Pearce shines for Pirates in exhibition victory

Pearce shines for Pirates in exhibition victory

BRADENTON, Fla. -- Fighting for a utility role, Steve Pearce shined as the Pirates won their first exhibition game of the spring, 21-1, over the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota on Friday.

The seven-inning game at the Pirates' McKechnie Field began with an impressive first inning for Pittsburgh left-hander Aaron Thompson, a waiver pickup from the Nationals this offseason. He struck out the side on 11 pitches.

"When I was with the Marlins I saw the University of Miami put up eight runs on Dontrelle Willis," Thompson said. "I realized then I wasn't going to treat a college team like a college team."

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The Pirates plated three in the bottom of the first, which began with a pair of walks to Corey Wimberly and Chase d'Arnaud. State College left-hander Josh Clemen had Wimberly picked off at first base, but the throw couldn't be handled, moving Wimberly to third. He then scored on Pearce's double off the left-center-field wall, below the 370-foot sign.

Pearce played first base on Friday, but he hopes to earn a roster spot by showing versatility at third base and in the outfield. Pearce walked in the second and doubled in d'Arnaud again in the bottom of the third on another liner to left-center.

"Today, I went out there and I swung at two pitches. I wasn't looking to do much, just sit on it, see the breaking ball," Pearce said. "Today was definitely just an adjustment day that happened to go in my favor."

Gorkys Hernandez had three RBIs through the first three innings, including two in the Pirates' seven-run second frame, when they sent 11 to the plate. Garrett Atkins also added a three-run homer in the fifth.

The Manatees' lone run came off right-hander Tyler Yates in the top of the second. Cleanup hitter B.J. Zimmerman led off with a single to left-center and moved to third on a wild pitch and a groundout. He scored on Bryant Elliott's sac fly.

Andy Marte nearly hit into double plays in both of his first two at-bats, but he ended up reaching base in both instances on a catcher's interference call and an error at second base.

Up Next: Friday featured the Pirates' first game action of the spring, but things become more serious on Saturday, when they play another Major League team for the first time this year. The Pirates travel to Port Charlotte, Fla., home of the Rays, for a 1:05 p.m. ET start. A pair of pitchers fighting for the fifth spot in the rotation, Charlie Morton and Brad Lincoln, are to take the first two turns on the mound.

Evan Drellich is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @EvanDrellich. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.